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Rare Condition Causes Woman To Sweat Blood (Photo)

Rare Condition Causes Woman To Sweat Blood (Photo) Promo Image

A rare medical condition that perplexed doctors has caused a woman to sweat blood from her pores.

The 21-year-old woman, who has not been named, reportedly arrived to a medical ward and told doctors she had been sweating blood from her face and palms for at least three years, according to The Guardian.

The woman was reported to have not had any sores or visible injuries.

The blood sweat would come when she slept, or when she was involved in physical activity, and could last for minutes. She said that it increased when she was stressed, but it wasn't clear what caused the bleeding to begin with.

The woman's embarrassment over her condition had led her to become socially isolated, and she developed depression. Her doctors wrote that the patient had "reported symptoms consistent with major depressive disorder and panic disorder."

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Her doctors, Roberto Maglie and Marzia Caproni of the University of Florence, Italy, also determined that the woman's blood clotting functions and blood count appeared normal, and prescribed her with anti-anxiety medication. The Italian woman's case was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The bleeding continued, and after determining that the woman had not been faking her condition, they diagnosed her with the rarely recorded hematohidrosis, in which patients may sweat blood, according to CBC News.

Hematohidrosis is not fatal, but can be extremely alarming for those who suffer from it.

The doctors prescribed her the heart medication propranolol, which lowered the amount of bleeding, but did not stop it altogether.

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Hematologist Michelle Sholzberg, who co-directs the Hemophilia Comprehensive Care program at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, called the woman's condition "most unusual."

"I can say with clarity that I've never seen a case like this -- ever," said Sholzberg. "And I can say that I've seen some of the worst bleeding disorders, and I've never seen them sweat blood."

"I think this person has a very bizarre anatomical defect on a microscopic level that is resulting in this very unusual symptom," said Sholzberg, who said that she didn't believe the phenomenon was a bleeding disorder.

Medical historian Jacalyn Duffin said she was skeptical about the case at first, but reviewed medical literature and cases from history, and came to believe that the condition is real.

"After all the research that I've done, I am convinced of the plausibility and the possibility that it exists," said Duffin. "There are mentions of the phenomenon as far back as [ancient Greek philosopher] Aristotle."

In her research, Duffin found previous cases of hematohidrosis, including a 12-year-old Swiss boy in the early 1600s who had sweated blood through his shirt, and a Belgian who had been condemned to death, and was so alarmed at his situation that he also sweated blood.

She added that many of the cases she discovered had occurred in modern times, including 18 since 2000. Duffin said she couldn't explain why so many cases of sweating blood were more recent.

"The very fact that there are sporadic references rot the phenomenon through time, scattered in many different places, tends to suggest to me that it must occur," said Duffin.

Sources: The Guardian, CBC News / Featured Image: Mate Marschalko/Flickr / Embedded images: CMAJ via Guardian, Jeff Baij/Flickr

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